What I Think about the Readers | George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950

George Bernard Shaw, floating on a diving platform, which bears the inscription
‘What I Think about the Readers’, 1935

“Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”

“Only in books has mankind known perfect truth, love and beauty.”

“What we call education and culture is for the most part nothing but the substitution of reading
for experience, of literature for life, of the obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real.”

“A book is like a child: it is easier to bring it into the world than to
control it when it is launched there.”

“Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman, but believing what he read made him mad.”

“People get nothing out of books but what they bring to them.”

“Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books
except the books that nobody can read.”

“People have pointed out evidences of personal feeling in my notices as if they were accusing me
of a misdemeanor, not knowing that criticism written without personal feeling is not worth reading.
It is the capacity for making good or bad art a personal matter that makes a man a critic.”

“How can you dare teach a man to read until you’ve taught him everything else first?”

“The road to ignorance is paved with good editions.
Only the illiterate can afford to buy good books now.”

“There is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school.
To begin with, it is a prison. But in some respects more cruel than a prison. In a prison, for
instance, you are not forced to read books written by the warders and the governor. . . .
In the prison you are not forced to sit listening to turnkeys discoursing without charm or
interest on subjects that they don’t understand and don’t care about, and therefore incapable
of making you understand or care about. In a prison they may torture your body; but they
do not torture your brains.”

“Keep away from books and from men who get their ideas from books,
and your own books will always be fresh.”

George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950


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